The Los Angeles Rams are coming off one sweep of an NFC West opponent and looking to do the same against the Arizona Cardinals who are 1-point underdogs at DraftKings Sportsbook. LA will be attempting to sweep the season series from Arizona for the fifth time since 2017.
The Rams are still alive in the NFC playoff picture and need to defeat the Cardinals for a chance at a long shot postseason berth. I spoke once more with Seth Cox from SB Nation’s Cardinals blog Revenge of the Birds to gain familiarity with LA’s frenemy ahead of their Week 12 clash.
Q - Star quarterback Kyler Murray is starting to look like himself since coming off a torn ACL he suffered last December. Murray completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 271 total yards and two total touchdowns in the loss to Houston. How would you assess Murray’s performance in his two starts this season?
A - Uneven, but expected. Two games and basically only four weeks of practice in the middle of the season you are seeing the timing issues, but also that the knee is healthy and that allows him to still make game changing plays.
The thing he has to get more comfortable and confident in is the timing on some routes, specifically with Hollywood Brown, who is winning his vertical matchups but consistently being missed (twice by Murray in the two games back and about five by Dobbs in his time).
The other things will work out you would assume, but so far, you have to be excited with where he is after 11 months.
Q - While we’re still on the subject of Kyler Murray, there have been questions related to his future in the desert. What should the Cardinals do with Murray in the offseason?
A - I mean ideally they keep him, he plays well and you have the ability to move down and get a bevy of picks to continue to build around him.
The issue with moving on is obviously his dead money, but also the fact that you are now stuck having to pick a quarterback. Hopefully if you are at two in that scenario you get the guy you want, but the lack of overall talent on the roster makes even that seem like a less than desirable option.
So, if you can keep Murray, move back and get Marvin Harrison Jr, or one of the top tackles, then add additional picks in round two and 2025, that is the best option.
If they move Kyler, you cut your cap space by over half, and as said above, you basically have to draft a quarterback. So, you are probably bad again in 2024 and I’m not sure that is a survivable situation for Jonathan Gannon.
Q - The offense had several chances to set up a game-winning drive in the second half against the Texans. Instead, Arizona turned the ball over on downs three times to end the comeback effort. Could you go over the play calling on those three drives and how should LA’s defense attack the Cardinals on offense?
A - There were misses, Kyler missed Trey McBride wide open on fourth down, there were bad routes, Greg Dortch ran a two-yard route on fourth and three and there was just ineffective play. The Texans brought what looked like a cover zero blitz and the Cardinals gave Kyler no time, so it was a prayer of a throw.
They also should have kicked a field goal on the first drive. That would have moved it to a two-point game and they got stops on defense so either of the last drives only a field goal is needed.
I think the Rams will just need to have consistent pressure. If they do that, then they can get the Cardinals out of a rhythm. If they go into lulls we have seen against the Steelers and Cowboys, then the Cardinals could take advantage and then lean on James Conner and the legs of Kyler Murray.
I’d lean towards the Rams being closer to what they were against Seattle, but I have to have some hope, right?
Q - The defense was a much different story as they held Houston scoreless after halftime and intercepted rookie sensation C.J. Stroud three times in the loss. How was the defense able to adjust in the second half and how could their efforts carry over against the Rams?
A - They are super well coached. That’s the biggest compliment I can give, because they lack talent all over the place.
Now, they’re without their best front seven player in Kyzir White, and lose another veteran defensive lineman in Leki Fotu.
So, can they? Sure. Will they? It just seems like the talent is just too lean.
That being said, Nick Rallis and Gannon scheme so well. They don’t have a singular pass rusher that strikes fear, but they are a top-10 team in terms of sacks.
However, they are one of the worst teams in the league in getting pressure on the quarterback, so unless they get a sack, teams have all day.
It is actually an okay issue to have since you have to hope talent will get added to the roster, and if they are getting this performance out of that talent, it breeds confidence.
Q - The Cardinals are 1-point underdogs with an O/U of 44.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook. What is your prediction for this matchup?
A - No idea. I’m taking the under, one-point is not something you are looking to cover, so you have to ask if they win outright.
As of Tuesday, I’d say no.
However, by Friday I’ll have talked myself into the idea of them winning.